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"Christianity is not a religion; it's not a system; it's not an ethical idea; it's not a psychological phenomenon. It's a person."

-Sean Mcdowell, More Than A Carpenter

I read that book for the second time on the flight to Panama, whether it was the first or second plane I don't remember. Headphones in my ears shut the world out, leaving only myself to distract me from the mission.

I'm not much of a blogger, but in these next few paragraphs I'm going to try to show you what a mission trip is like, the reasons to go on one, and how to prepare yourself for one. For starters, preparing for a mission is more than just buying travel sized bottles and snacks. I will admit, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of flying, seeing new places, and being tourists for a day, but that's not what it's about. I've found on my past trips(Panama January 2016, Mexico July 2016) that the days, weeks, or even months leading up to your mission are difficult. I struggle with the devil and his distractions before I even step foot on a plane. It's an investment of time and focus, every day to be in the Word and communicating with God.

On this trip that's what I focused on beforehand. I now can say I am no longer motivated by an image of satisfaction through well-intended experiences, but by an overwhelming desire to serve and please my all-knowing Father and Creator. No longer am I controlled by a want for something I can't attain but through Jesus Christ.

I felt the calling early on, Christ inside of me was just prodding me to go. So when we finally landed in Panama, it was an unexplainable familiarity, like I belonged there in that moment. Typical greetings and introductions came once we got through customs, and I met our translator Karissa and our driver, Ramfis. We all hit it off immediately, and I knew Karissa and I would have an amazing time rooming together. By the time we reached the hotel, it was 9:30PM and we were all exhausted.

The next morning we went to the church service, seeing all of the people again was so joyous. Karissa translated the entire sermon, and we went out to lunch and the beach after, which was nice considering the heat. Janice witnessed to a Catholic couple on the beach, she was ready to go from the start. The day was full of introductions and scoping out the week. We had a VBS meeting in the church before heading to dinner. By the end of the day we were all wiped out, and prepared for VBS the next day.

The kids were eager to learn and try to speak English, the second we met them our hearts melted. We taught them values like respect, honesty, and love. It was hard, hot work, keeping up with them. After their lesson, and we played Futbol outside, the heat sucked the energy out of my body like a vacuum. My little amigo, Octavio, decided I was his permanent playmate whenever he so desired, leaving me panting and sweaty but it was beyond worth it. The third day two teenage girls got saved, a joyous victory.

I remember one day hearing Karissa say, "those six hours fell on me like fire," referring to her usual seven. I laughed at her but I was feeling it too. We sang and danced with the kids to songs we could hardly sing, attempting Spanish(and failing a lot if you're me). By the time the end of VBS came along we all had made many new friends. Octavio exclaimed angrily that I would be back Friday, to play Futbol again.

After VBS we drove back to Panama City, checking into a new hotel and planning our day of tourism. We visited the canal, watching ships pass through. My favorite part of the canal is the wind, when its 80-90 degrees the breeze is amazing. We went to an outdoor market, shopping for gifts and souvenirs . I wasn't ready for it to end.

To finish out our last day all the ladies and I went out on a long walk, sharing testimonies and stories. I could tell we were all a little closer than when the week began. The van ride to the airport in the morning was silent. I was reflecting on the week, praying for the two teenage girls who became saved and who they will impact. It was sad we were leaving.

If you're feeling led to go and serve internationally, Glen Locklear has mission classes that you must take in order to go. If you check the bulletin on Sunday it'll have the information you need to take the class. Don't let worldly distractions get in the way if you're feeling led. Mathew 28:19-20 is a great motivation for anyone who is feeling God push them towards missions.

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Always remember, your life is a mission and the entire world needs to see God's love through us.

 

Posted by Grace Woodliff with
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I was reading the most recent blog written by Dr. Albert Mohler, the current president of Southern Seminary, one of our six Southern Baptist Seminaries, and I found it to be quite thought-provoking. He was summarizing some comments written by Charles Taylor in his book The Secular Age and giving commentary on those comments.

In his summary, he noted that the gist of the book was the identification of three major intellectual ages in history and the impact those ages have had on the mindset of mankind regarding their belief in God while including the ways that believers can hold on to and spread their biblical convictions and biblical principles. He identified the ages of pre-enlightenment, the enlightenment, and the post- modern intellectual epochs. They are also named by some as the pre-modern, modern, and post-modern ages. Others have labelled the post-modern age as the post-Christian era.

In the pre-enlightenment era it was impossible for people not to believe in God, on the whole. There were largely no other worldviews that were available for consideration by society in the West. Everyone related their life, their world, to the Bible or the “enchantment”, supernatural world views. There were no atheists in that day. He notes that the descriptive word “atheist” didn’t even exist in the English language until Miles Coverdale invented the word while studying the Bible to describe someone who didn’t believe in God. Obviously, no problem, on the whole talking about your faith, the gospel or the principles derived from the Word and applied to your life.

The enlightenment became a time when people began to have options to consider. They could take a different world view in opposition to the Christian worldview. It now became possible not to believe. I mean now you could choose a naturalistic worldview as opposed to a supernatural or theistic worldview. Most didn’t, because the theistic worldview was still the most persuasive and the most engrained world view, it was held to by most during this time. It became more difficult to engage society with the truth of the gospel and the principles gleaned from the Word of God, but the hostility and derision was not anything like that which would come to fruition during the next epoch.

The post-modern age has become the age where secular thought seeks to reign supreme. It has become virtually impossible to believe. In a relative short period of time, three-hundred to four hundred years, the secularization of our society now overshadows our daily living. Now we live in a society that all but erases the legitimacy of the Christian worldview. How many University professors, outside of Christian educational institutions, do you believe hold to a Christian worldview? Obviously there are Christians in each age, including the age that we now live in, but the environment has become more hostile and dismissive of a Christian worldview.

This age, on the whole, wants to erase God from the landscape and replace Him with another religion that is false, that being human secularism. But of course, that will not happen. You cannot erase God or His disciples or the truth written in the Word of God.

Since the intellectual constructs of our society have becoming increasingly hostile toward the Christian worldview we must be prepared to engage human secularism and opposing world views in the marketplace of ideas with the truth and power of the gospel, in love.

How many of our children or our grandchildren find themselves thrown out, by us, into the “lion’s den” without a proper preparation for the hostility and derision they may find from a society that ridicules their most precious faith. How many will find a teacher in the public educational system that will believe it is his or her duty to challenge and destroy the faith of every believer that is uncovered. Most of us have had a teacher like my Mr. Boyce in high school, the science teacher, or the many others encountered at the University level...that believe it is their job to do so. How many of us are going to remain oblivious to, or surprised at, the continual effort to erase God from our society, when the effort is manifest every day, even on His birthday, Christmas.

It’s probably time to pull our heads out of the sand and make preparation and engage opposing world views with confidence and tenacity. The best thing that you can do for yourself and your family is to study the Word of God, learn it, and live it. When you know the truth you can identify that which is untrue and ungodly, and when you apply it to your life and live it by faith daily you give witness to the power and plan of God for living. With that testimony you will enjoy a credibility that will make it easier for people to entertain the truth of the gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit to convict and to convert.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV)

In the Old Testament we find Daniel, as a young teenager, uprooted from his homeland and family, indoctrinated educationally for three years by a society that wanted him to forget where He was from and who God was and who He was, but he didn’t. He knew His Bible. His parents had instructed him well, and he had the foundation that enabled him to live it in a hostile environment. He lived his life in such a way that it gave witness to the one true God of the universe...and then he left the results in the hands of God. You can find his story and example in the book of Daniel. It gives us a clue... on what to do.

We, like Daniel, find ourselves in an ever increasing hostile environment directed towards our faith. It shouldn’t be a surprise.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (ESV)

Indeed, not everyone is as open to entertaining the truth of the Scripture as in days gone by. Most are becoming very intolerant and would like for us to forget God and certainly not speak of Him or His truth in the public square.

But we also live in the public square and we will not be ashamed or unprepared. We will not be surprised by attacks or obstacles but will with love and passion live and share the gospel, the hope of all mankind. But this reality does call upon us, in our preparation, to know our audience, the age we live in, and to employ the most effective manner possible in sharing the gospel and the principles of Scripture in every venue possible. If I were preaching to a group of miners I would seek to speak to them in a manner that would be markedly different from the way I might speak to a group of surfers on the beach in Hawaii. (By the way, anybody who would like to send me to Hawaii for a couple of weeks to do so...please...give me a call!) But the one thing you could count on is this, the message of the gospel would be unchanged, for it is the “power of God for salvation to all who believe” (Romans 1:16) but the manner by which I delivered it might be a little different, without violating Scriptural principles. Our message will remain unchanged...the good news...the gospel...for it is the only hope for every person in the world.

Get prepared, and prepare your family, and other disciples of Christ to no longer be surprised by the age we live in, and engage the culture with the gospel, with what we say and how we live, for the glory of God.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16 (ESV)

 

Posted by Ralph Sawyer with

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